The Nets guard was mocked in the first game in Philly

The Nets guard was mocked in the first game in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Yes, Ben Simmons was booed.

One of the most reviled former players in Philadelphia sports history got the hostile homecoming that awaited the Brooklyn Nets guard in his first game in the city since his former team accepted his trade demand in February.

Simmons was voraciously booed from the moment he stepped onto the Wells Fargo Center court for warmups against the 76ers to the first time he took the ball against his former franchise.

“This is a Vince Vaughn night,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said with a laugh.

Oh yeah, Sixers fans cursed, turned old No. 25 jerseys into art projects, and the underdogs let the mercurial guard have it because of their belief that he turned his back on the franchise that bought him. become the #1 pick in 2016.

“I can’t worry about everybody’s feelings,” Simmons said before Tuesday’s game.

Simmons played in his first game for Philadelphia since the June 20, 2021 Game 7 loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He missed an open game-tying dunk late in the loss that drew passive criticism from coach Rivers and Joel Embiid that undid the relationship. Simmons also had back problems and later said mental health issues played a role in his trade demand in the summer of 2021, leading to a contentious few days in training camp. Simmons was sent home for good, filed a grievance after the Sixers said he breached his contract (later settled in a confidential settlement) and then shipped to Brooklyn in a trade for the All-Star James Harden.

Embiid and Harden sat out with injuries, as did Tyrese Maxey, the flashy guard who became an instant fan favorite as Simmons’ backup.

Simmons, who watched from the bench as he recovered from a back injury when the Nets played in Philly in March, told reporters during the shootaround that he held no hard feelings toward Embiid and other former teammates. team

“We had a lot of highlights. We had a lot of great times,” Simmons said. “I have a lot of love for Jo, too. Obviously, it didn’t work. That’s life. Not everything goes in your favor.”

Asked if he could look for Embiid, Simmons said, “Yeah, we’re going to do our secret handshake.”

The Sixers’ trio of starters made the nationally televised game somewhat anticlimactic.

Well, at least on the court. Philadelphia’s starting lineup of Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, De’Anthony Melton and Shake Milton wasn’t what most fans expected who listed lower-level entries in the $900 range when this was published .

Booing Simmons made it worth any price.

Hey, at least the local duct tape business was booming. Sixers fans only needed a sharpie and the sticker to reclaim their old No. 25 Simmons jerseys. Most fans wrote some sort of profanity on the tape: A hopeful fan waiting in a closed area before the opened the main course had his vulgarity ripped off by a security guard, while one delved into the great Philly slur and wrote “Crumb.” Bumb” about Simmons’ name.

Nets players laughed at the layup line before the game as Simmons ran to boos.

“I had a lot of great times here. This is where I became a man, I guess,” Simmons said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Philly that way. I have a lot of love for Philly.”

It wasn’t all hate and basketball in the city of brotherly love.

Sydney Reiver of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, held a sign from the third row that read “BEN IM UR #1 FAN, PLEASE SIGN MY JERSEY” and caught the guard’s attention after warmups. Simmons walked into the stands and posed for a photo with the teenager wearing his No. 10 Brooklyn jersey. She had missed meeting him when he was playing in Philadelphia and decided to direct message him on Instagram that she would be attending the game. The 14-year-old ninth-grader said she was “upset” when Simmons was traded, but was excited to finally meet her favorite player.

“He said, ‘what’s up,'” she said.

Reiver attended the game with his father; the family has had season tickets for 41 years.

Simmons had friendlier faces in the Brooklyn locker room, a point Vaughn has made with the three-time All-Star. Whatever the outcome, Simmons has a home with the Nets.

“What I want to see is his teammates have his back, embrace him, enjoy this moment,” Vaughn said.



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